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Kripal's 1995 book Kali's Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna was a study of the BengalimysticRamakrishna. The book was a psychoanalytic study arguing that Ramakrishna's mystical experiences involved a strong homoerotic dimension. The book won the American Academy of Religion's History of Religions Prize for the Best First Book of 1995. A second, revised edition was published in 1998. The book has been dogged by controversy ever since its initial publication in 1995. The book's claims have been questioned by the scholars and Alan Roland, and members of the Ramakrishna Mission (Swami Tyagananda and Pravrajika Vrajaprana), often on the grounds of translation errors. However, Bengal scholar Brian Hatcher has defended Kripal's translations.
Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
In 2007 The University of Chicago Press released Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, Kripal's account of the Esalen Institute, the retreat center and think-tank located in Big Sur, California. Writing in the Journal of American History, Catherine Albanese called it "a highly personal account that is also a superb historiographical exercise and a masterful work of analytical cultural criticism."
Authors of the Impossible
Kripal's 2011 book traces the history of psychic phenomena over the last two centuries. The book profiles four writers: the British psychical researcher F. W. H. Myers, the American anomalist writer and humorist Charles Fort, the astronomer, computer scientist, and ufologistJacques Vallee, and the French philosopher Bertrand Méheust.
Chronicle of Higher Education
In a March 2014 article for the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Visions of the Impossible", Kripal cited Mark Twain, who wrote that a dream about his brother's death appeared to come true in detail a few weeks later. Kripal writes that
The professional debunker's insistence, then, that the phenomena play by his rules and appear for all to see in a safe and sterile laboratory is little more than a mark of his own ignorance of the nature of the phenomena in question.
As a result of criticisms like Malhotra's, Kripal was among a group of scholars receiving death threats and physical attacks from Hindus offended by his portrayals. He shifted his research focus away from Hinduism afterward, claiming, "I stuck with it and responded as best as I could for about six or seven years. It just wore me down after a while. At some point I felt like it wasn't worth it anymore, that it was starting to affect my health. I couldn't go anywhere, any conference or anything, without having to deal with the thought police, as it were."
"Phallus and Vagina"." In Encyclopedia of Religion (2005)
Reality Against Society: William Blake, Antinomianism, and the American Counter Culture. Common Knowledge, volume 13, issue 1 (Winter 2007)
Re-membering Ourselves: Some Countercultural Echoes of Contemporary Tantric Studies, lead-essay of inaugural issue, Journal of South Asian Religion, volume 1 issue 1 (2007)
"Liminal Pedagogy: The Liberal Arts and the Transforming Ritual of Religious Studies." in How Should We Talk About Religion? Perspectives, Contexts, Particularities, edited by J. White (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006)
"Western Popular Culture, Hindu Influences On." In The Encyclopedia of Hinduism edited by D. Cush, C. Robinson, and M. York, Routledge/Curzon (2007)
The Rise of the Imaginal: Psychical Phenomena on the Horizon of Theory (Again)." Religious Studies Review volume 33 issue 3 (2007)
"Myth" in The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion edited by R.. Segal. Wiley-VCH (2008)